Expert Insights: 7 Ideas for Work-Life Balance Practices

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Work-life balance is an important consideration for employers concerned with attracting and maintaining top talent, as well as maintaining optimal productivity. Implementing policies and workplace practices that meet employees’ work-life balance needs can be done in companies of all sizes with positive results.

Seven Work-Life Balance Suggestions
Chris Duchesne, Vice President of Global Workplace Solutions for suggests a few practical approaches that companies of all sizes – even small businesses – may benefit from implementing.

Seek to Reduce Stress: The stress that employees experience at work and at home can impact their productivity. Employers should, as Duchesne recommends, “Help employees manage not only their professional lives, but their personal lives as well, with programs and services to address their most pressing and stressful family needs.  Rather than solely focusing on childcare, think about how you can help them take care of their aging parents, their pets and their households too.”

Reduce disruptions and distractions: Duchesne points out, “Despite employees’ best efforts, occasionally their normal support systems break down.” He suggests that employers may want to consider implementing programs designed to “provide services such as adult and child backup care to reduce absenteeism and distractions. With regular family care supports, productivity is increased.”

Provide flexible work options: Duchesne recommends, “With respect to both work schedule and work location, as long as work gets done, put less of an emphasis on where or when it was accomplished. Recent Gallup research found employees who work remotely (even part of the time) are both more engaged and more productive.”

Encourage breaks: According to Duchesne, “Creating mandatory fun sounds like a contradiction, but celebrating birthdays, allowing budget for team lunches, holding quarterly group challenges (mental and/or physical face-offs where teams mix up and meet new people), or even having a beer or snack cart for random holidays can boost team spirit and culture.” He points out, “A break for forced fun can reduce mental fatigue, increase collaboration and morale, and offer employees the opportunity to clear their heads and reflect.”

Create a culture of permission: Duchesne specifies, “Employees should not fear peer or career retribution for taking personal leave.  Some companies offer great programs but don’t support them with a company culture that actually encourages employees to take the time off.” He points out, “If senior management doesn’t set an example by partaking in benefits programs, there is a perceived standard set that while the benefit is available, it’s not really acceptable for employees to utilise it.”

Know your employees: Duchesne recommends, “Stay in touch with your employees and know what life phase they are in. This will help determine what types of benefits are appropriate for your organisation. It’s also a good idea to survey employees on their interest in benefits programs to find out what would be beneficial to them.”

Maintain uniform benefits for men and women: Duchesne points out, “With changing family dynamics, care responsibilities (whether for a child or an aging parent) no longer fall predominantly on women.” He states, “Care programs that assist both men and women are essential (for example maternity AND paternity leave programs).”

Positive Changes

These are just a few of the many ways that employers can take steps toward ensuring that their employees’ work-life balance needs are met. Not every suggestion will work in every business. The key is to consider the needs of your business as well as the needs of your employees to identify areas where your policies can be adapted to better serve the needs of both.